This post forms part of the A-Z of Self-Care for Busy Parents series. If you missed the introductory post you can read it here.
As parents, we’re forever busy and the list of jobs and responsibilities can be endless and exhausting. We all complain about not having enough hours in the day and fall into bed at night worn out only to start it all again in the morning (if we’re lucky and don’t have at least one child up through the night). The to-do lists we hastily jot down only ever get longer (or lost).
We all want a way to lighten the load and may search for routines, charts, checklists, diaries etc to help keep us more organised and on track. And while these things can certainly be useful, the workload will still be the same. What we really need to do is ask for help.
Now there may be some of you reading this who are very good at asking for help and I take my hat off to you, keep it up. But I’d wager that the vast majority of you are really bad at it and instead just soldier on, getting tireder by the day. Why is that?
Top Reasons We Struggle To ask for help And Why They Don’t Stack Up
- Fear of rejection – Maybe its as simple as being worried the other person will say no. But even if they do, you’ve lost nothing. It would take a pretty heartless person to say no and make you feel guilty for even asking. In most cases, if a person can’t help with the specific thing you’ve asked for, they will offer to help in some other way.
- We believe we have to do it all – Maybe we see it as our ‘job’ or our ‘duty’ to do all of the things we take on. Why? Nobody, and I mean nobody, can do everything all the time without some help, not without breaking under the strain.
- We don’t want to burden anyone – after all, everyone has their own stuff to do, why would we want to add to that? Asking for help isn’t being a burden, it’s opening up and admitting you need them. It doesn’t have to be a one-way street, maybe there’s something you can help them with too.
- Everyone else can cope so we should too – we see other people coping or see all the perfect pictures people post on social media and think we will be seen as useless if we can’t cope as well as them. I’ll let you into a secret, it’s all a lie! Those perfect pictures don’t show what is going on outside the frame. They are carefully angled to hide the pile of washing in the sink/laundry on the floor/pen marks on the wall etc. Those smiling kids may have spent all morning screaming and refusing to put their socks on. You never really see what goes on behind closed doors and away from the camera, we are all human.
- Other people have it way harder – what do we have to complain about? There are plenty of people out there who are worse off than us, we should stop complaining and get on with it. While it’s true that there are always other people who are worse off, it doesn’t mean that you can’t struggle. Everyone needs help sometimes no matter what their circumstances.
- Loss of control – the perfectionist in us may worry about the other person doing it wrong. So what? What’s the worst that can happen? So it isn’t done the way you would have done it, as long as it’s done does it really matter? No it doesn’t.
Why asking for help is so important
- No one can do it all and trying to will just lead to you getting burnt out or ill.
- Sometimes people actually want to help but don’t want to step on your toes or risk offending you by offering.
- It builds connections and strengthens relationships. By lowering your guard and admitting to someone that you need their help, not only are you trusting in them and opening up, you’re making them feel valued and needed and opening up a line of communication that can only deepen your relationship.
- Builds independence in children and helps them learn. If you have older children asking them for help, even if it’s just setting the table or emptying the dishwasher, can make them feel good about themselves and provide them with life skills.
I’m the first to admit that I am terrible when it comes to asking for help, for all of the reasons listed above. Even when my husband asks if I need help with something my first response is ‘no, its ok’. It was only after a conversation one night that I realised he wasn’t offering just as a way of being polite, he actually wanted to help. I was too busy trying to do everything in a bid to be the perfect wife/mother I felt I needed to be that I didn’t realise I was actually pushing him out. I do still struggle with asking for help at times (I’m working on it), but since that conversation I rarely need to anymore.
Just some of the things you could ask for help with
- Household chores – ask you partner to help out with certain chores or give the kids some small age-appropriate tasks.
- Cooking – maybe you and your partner could take it in turns or they could help out at the weekend.
- ‘Me Time’ – maybe you could set aside one hour a week where someone else is in charge of the kids so you can have a soak in the bath.
- If you’re a single parent you could always make an arrangement with a fellow mum friend. You could offer to have her kids at your house one afternoon/evening and they do the same for you the following week.
- Maybe you could ask your boss for more flexible hours or a revision of certain responsibilities.
- Maybe you just need a babysitter so you can have a night out and let your hair down.
Sit down and have a think if there is anything that you can ask for help with so that you can lighten your load or just have a bit of extra time to take care of yourself. Then bite the bullet and ask.
Of course, this post refers to day to day tasks/responsibilities. If you’re struggling emotionally, asking for help can be scary but is even more important. If you find it too hard opening up to a friend or relative, speak to your doctor and they will be able to put you in touch with someone locally who can help you.
See also 16 Quotes about Asking for Help which includes a FREE printable of all 16 new quotes plus the three in this one too.
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